Bob Kellar | Start the New Year Right and Celebrate Safely

Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Make sure your holidays and New Year celebration are a wonderful time by avoiding simple mistakes that can ruin the holiday spirit. The following are some helpful safety tips to ensure your New Year kicks off right!

1. Plan a Ride in Advance – We’ll start with this tip because it is one of the most important. It is crucial to have a safe ride on a night when so many people are out celebrating. Know your options in advance and decide whether you will be traveling via public transportation, a ridesharing service or a carpool with your friends. Remember, the cost of a ridesharing service is WAY cheaper than getting fined for driving under the influence, or worse — the cost of someone’s life.

2. Cook With Care – Did you know that the number of cooking fires increases significantly around the holidays? To avoid fires, never leave your hot pots and pans unattended on the stove. When using a cooking appliance, plug it directly into the outlet. Never use an extension cord, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire. Keep things that can catch fire and heat sources apart. Also, if you have little ones at home, keep them away from cooking areas with a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove. 

3. The Best Decorations Are Safe Decorations – Keep all decorations at least three feet away from heat sources, especially open flame sources such as a fireplace. If you still have your Christmas tree, water it to keep it fresh and safe. A dry Christmas tree can pose a serious fire hazard. Always turn off decorations when you leave your home or when you’re off to bed – this also applies to space heaters.

4. No Fireworks or Guns – Don’t let your new year start with the wrong kind of bang. If you are going to engage in fireworks, please leave it to the professionals! Celebratory gunfire can turn deadly. Remember, what comes up, must come down — that includes a stray bullet.

5. Don’t Share Your Vacation Details – Leaving town for New Year’s Eve? As tempting as it may be, avoid posting status updates while you are still on vacation. A thief looking through social media or an ill-intentioned acquaintance of a friend may see your post and think it’s a great opportunity to stop by your vacant home for a robbery. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station offers a free vacation check service for residents going out of town. You can place a request by visiting our Resident Service Center at

6. Do Not Leave Your Car Overnight – Did you know that New Year’s Eve is the second most active holiday for car thefts? Don’t make your car or car valuables part of a thief’s stolen collection! If you MUST leave your car overnight, make sure it is locked with valuables stored out of sight. The next morning, I would suggest checking on your car as soon as possible. Learn more tips at

I have served 25 years with the Los Angeles Police Department and have seen first-hand that thieves and burglars don’t take a break during the holidays. Although Santa Clarita has been ranked in many national lists as one of the safest cities, that does not mean we are immune to crime.

This holiday season, I encourage you to enjoy quality time with your family and friends, and remember to celebrate safely!

Bob Kellar is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at: [email protected]

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